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A Lot of Effort Has Gone into Making Mumbai Green Raaga a Unique Experience: Mahesh Babu

Mahesh Babu, Founder and Managing Director, Banyan Tree Events India Pvt. Ltd. spoke to EE about the recently concluded Mumbai Green Raaga Festival.

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An initiative of a not-for-profit institution in association with the BMC, Mumbai Green Raga Festival featured 85 vocalists and instrumentalists performing in 17 classical music concerts simultaneously. The idea was to provide a platform to up-and-coming musicians, and introduce the residents of Mumbai to gardens in their own backyard they may not know of.

Mahesh Babu, Founder and Managing Director, Banyan Tree Events India Pvt. Ltd. spoke to EE about the recently concluded Mumbai Green Raaga Festival.


Tell us about the genesis behind the festival. Who all are your key partners for the event?

There are many beautiful gardens in Mumbai that are well maintained by the BMC, and they have proper amphitheatres too. These gardens are usually used by a few health conscious people who frequent these gardens for regular morning walks/yoga sessions. While visiting one such garden, the thought crossed my mind that we should use these gardens and the amazing environment it provides to create awareness of Indian classical music amongst Mumbaikars who visit these parks/gardens. This thought led to Mumbai Green Raaga in association with Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). The event was conceived & produced by Tender Roots Academy of Performing Arts and Managed by Banyan Tree Events. 106.4 Magic FM was the Radio partner for Mumbai Green Raaga.


Searching locations, doing 17 concerts simultaneously across Mumbai, managing 100 artists must be a tedious task, could you throw some light on challenges you faced while putting it together? 

Yes of course, it did take a lot of time, effort and energy. In fact for almost two weeks all that the entire team was doing was just this. Permissions, arrangements, artist coordination, so many layers to it. So yes, it was very, very demanding and tedious to say the least but the end result we got made the entire effort worth it.
 
Bringing classical music to masses and in the midst of nature is a great concept, so what kind of a response did you receive?

We expected a good response but the enthusiasm with which people responded was really amazing and so heartwarming. At every single garden we had several people come up to us, not just to thank us for the wonderful experience, but also requesting us to continue it at least every fortnight if not every week. The entire team was really happy with such amazing response. Interestingly, it was so well appreciated by a diverse audience, young and old alike. We are really encouraged by the response and we hope to continue and expand this.

 

How did you curate the experience at various venues?
 A lot of effort has gone into making Mumbai Green Raaga a unique experience for the masses. Choosing the right musicians, the right instruments and choosing the right ragas keeping the time of the day in mind. We also ensured that the setup does not disturb the people who regularly visit these gardens. It was nice to hear that people felt it enhanced their morning experience and added lot of peace and positivity.

 How big is your team that created these arrangements across 17 locations? 

The entire team at Banyan Tree and Tender Roots were totally dedicated to this to this event for almost two weeks. But that too was not enough, so along with that we had to also invite our ex-employees and volunteers. All of them helped make this event a success.
 

Could you elaborate on the artists who performed in the festival?

 Banyan Tree has now almost 25 years of experience in curating and conducting classical music events across India and hence we have access to many artists. We approached maestros and senior artists in the industry to recommend and share names of promising students and budding artists. Once we created the database, artists were shortlisted through a selection process and that's how we arrived at our final artist list that performed across the 17 gardens in Mumbai. These included vocalists and artists on various instruments like the  Flute, Sitar, Sarangi, Santoor, Sarod, and also Tabla, Harmonium, Pakhawaj. We also had artists travel from Pune and Nasik for this event.


 Finally, in your view, how can we promote classical music to non classical music listeners? 

Classical music is one of the treasured parts of our intangible heritage that has truly stood the test of times. We think it's the responsibility of each of us to preserve and promote this rich cultural heritage so that our future generations can also get an exposure to it, learn and enjoy it. Once you get deeper, even as a listener, it has the power to take you to deeper and spiritual realms. That we feel is the most powerful aspect of our music which is really worth every effort one can make. 



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